Saturday, October 29, 2011

Symptoms of Jack-in-the-Pulpit Poisoning

Jack-in-the-Pulpit is a perennial plant botanically known as Arisaema triphyllum. It is from the Arum family of plants and is native to the United States. It has large glossy leaves and a hooded flower that is green with brown stripes. There are bright red berries on the plant as well. The poisonous ingredient in the plant is calcium oxalate.


The signs of jack-in-the-pulpit poisoning from ingesting the plant include teary eyes, swelling of the mouth and the tongue, slurred speech, diarrhea, burning in the throat and mouth, nausea, and vomiting. There may be difficulty breathing if there is severe mouth and tongue swelling.

First Aid

Pour water on the skin where the plant touched, if it touched the eyes have them be rinsed with water. Wipe out the mouth with a wet cloth. Give milk to drink unless there is convulsions, decreased alertness, or vomiting (where swallowing may be too difficult). Call emergency medical intervention.


Rarely, the poison will block the airways cutting off breathing. The emergency workers will monitor the patient's vital signs and treat the symptoms that they are having. There may be stomach flushing and IV fluids given. Treatment will be determined by how much of the poison was ingested and the general health of the patient when they enter the ER.

Some alternate names for this condition are wild turnip poisoning, brown dragon poisoning, Indian turnip poisoning, bog onion poisoning, wake robin poisoning, and Arisaema triphyllum poisoning.

Source: NPIN, A.D.A.M.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Native Trees That Have Interesting Bark Features

(River birch bark image courtesy of Wikipedia)

It’s not always the blooms or foliage of a tree that make it interesting. There are times when the bark is a main focal point on the tree. These native trees of the United States all have interesting bark features that can work well in your landscape.

Cotinus obovatus Raf. (American Smoke Tree, Chittamwood, Cotinus americanus)

This tree gets up to 20 to 30 feet in height and spread. It has yellow-green blooms from May to June. It is named for the billowy hairs that are purple or pink in the summer. It has great fall color in the yellow/red/orange scheme. It is a good accent tree and has flaky attractive bark. It is an adaptable tree, preferring sun or partial shade and dry well-drained soil. Propagate by seed, root cuttings, softwood cuttings, and semi-hardwood cuttings.

Carya pallida (Ashe.) Engl and Graebn. (Sand Hickory)

The sand hickory tree grows up to 80 feet tall with a dense crown and straight trunk. Leaves have five to nine lance-like leaflets. They are compound and seven to 14 inches long. Flowers are yellow-green catkins if male and short small clusters if female. Fruits are thin-husked nuts that are dark brown when mature. Sand hickory trees have gray smooth bark at first and then dark furrowed bark as it matures.

Carya aquatica (Michx. f.) Nutt. (Water Hickory, Bitter Pecan)

This tree gets up to 65 feet tall and one foot wide. It has a narrow crown and prefers partial shade with wet soil. Its flowers are yellow and its fruits are nuts in thin husks. The seeds have a bitter taste, giving the name “Bitter Pecan”. Its bark is shaggy and scaly and lends texture to the tree. Its wood is difficult to work with and is used normally as a fuel source. It is a larval host plant for the Luna butterfly, funeral dagger butterfly, and giant regal butterfly. Propagate by seed.

Betula nigra L. (River Birch)

Known for its paper-like bark, this deciduous tree can grow up to 100 feet tall but is more typically 20 to 50 feet high. It is resilient to flood damage and is good in the tough clay soils found in Georgia. It prefers partial shade and moist neutral pH soil. Game birds love the birch’s seeds. This is a beautiful tree specimen in the yard with its unique paper bark. Propagate by seed or softwood cuttings.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

All about the Giant Redwood Tree

The Giant Redwood tree is also known as the Sierra redwood and the giant sequoia. Botanically, it is named Sequoiadendron giganteum, and is from the bald-cypress family of plants. It is an evergreen.

Giant Redwood Description

Cultivated, these large trees will get 60 to 100 feet tall. In the wild, they can grow much higher. After 100 years of age, the tree will be free of branches up to the 100 feet mark. Leaves are gray-green and scale-like with sharp points. The bark is thick, red-brown, and fissured. Cones are egg-shaped. It is cone-shaped in growth and will become flat-topped with age.

Growing Guide

These trees grow well in deep well-drained soil. They need full sun to partial shade, doing best in the partial shade. Propagate by seed and pretreat the seed with a day long soak and then one to two months of chilling. They can also be propagated by softwood tip cuttings and semi-hardwood cuttings. They are hardy in USDA hardiness zones of 5 through 9.


The variety ‘Glauca’ has blue tinted foliage. Cultivar ‘Pygmaeum’ has a shorter and shrubbier growth habit than a typical redwood. The ‘Pendulum’ variety will have droopy branches and a crooked trunk.

Name Selection

The name comes from a tribute to Sequioah. Sequoiah was the son of a Cherokee woman and British man, who created the alphabet for his people. He was born in 1770 and died in 1843. The ‘dendron’ part of the name comes from the Greek word for ‘tree’.

General Sherman

The largest living thing on Earth currently, is a giant redwood in Sequioa National Park named “General Sherman”. It is 275 feet high and 107 feet wide at the crown with 26 feet wide at the trunk. They estimate it to be 2,500 years old.

If there is room in your landscape for such a majestic tree, these do quite well. In fact, for the eastern portion of the United States, this variety will do better than the similar California redwood.

Source: Floridata, Giant Sequoia

Georgia Native Ferns that Prefer Wet Soil

These five native ferns of Georgia are all ones that will need to be planted in a very moist to wet soil. These are good ferns for a partially shaded marshy area of the yard.

Woodwardia areolata (L.) T. Moore (Netted Chain Fern, Chain Fern)

Netted chain fern grows 18 to 24 inches tall and looks much like the sensitive fern. There is a dull green leaf stalk with a red-brown lower section. A deciduous fern, you can propagate by spores located on the undersides of the fertile fronds. This fern prefers shaded areas and wet soils.

Woodwardia virginica (L.) Sm. (Virginia Chain Fern, Anchistea virginica)

The Virginia chain fern grows two to three feet long and three to four feet wide with fronds 18 to 48 inches long. Fronds are leather-like and deciduous with a dark brown stipe.  It prefers partial shade and wet or moist acidic soil. There are arching fronds and a loose structure in shade and a tight clustered growth with more sunlight.  It prefers wet locations.  To propagate the Virginia chain fern, do so by spores or rhizome division.

Thelypteris noveboracensis (L.) Nieuwl. (New York Fern, Tapering Fern, Dryopteris noveboracensis)

This fern gets up to two feet tall and needs an equal spacing. Its fronds taper towarde the base and it is resistant to deer. It prefers partial to full shade and mildly acidic to neutral soil. It is usually seen growing in moist woods. It is slow growing but easy to transplant. You can divide the root ball to propagate.

Osmunda cinnamomea L. (Cinnamon Fern)

This fern gets up to three to four feet tall and needs a two to three foot spread. It loves partial to full shade and moist acidic soil. It is also very long-lived and tough for a fern. There are bluish green fronds and the middle has a cinamon stick looking fiddles in the spring. Coarse antique-looking leaves make this a winner in the garden. You can propagate this by dividing the rhizomes.

Onoclea sensibilis L. (Sensitive Fern)

This fern gets up to 18 to 23 inches high and wide. It loves a full sun to partial shade environment and slight acidic moist soil. It is named for the fronds that are particularly sensitive with withering at the first sign of frost. You can propagate this by dividing the rhizomes in spring. It is a good spreader and there is very low maintanence in this fern. It is a tough plant, despite its “sensitive” name.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Southern Native Plants That Grow Without A Lot of Trouble

Gardeners like to toil the soil and tend to their plants, but there are some that would like some easier growing plants that tend to them. These native plants are all easy growing ones that will grow without a lot of trouble and maintenance. They are also all southern native plants.

Allium canadense L. (Wild Garlic, Meadow Garlic)

A member of the lily family, wild garlic has grass-like foliage and grows eight to 12 inches tall. Basal leaves adorn a flowering stalk of pink or white star-like clusters. It has an onion-like aroma. Blooms appear May through July. Grow a wild garlic plant in sunny spots and rich moist soils. Propagate by seed.  It can be a folk remedy for insect bites, coughing, ear infections, and scurvy. The brown bulb is edible and it will taste like an onion. Wild garlic is generally pest and disease free but some plants may have issues with slugs.

Linum virginianum L. (Woodland Flax)

The woodland flax is a perennial that grows one to two feet high. Stemless leaves are oval and small with star-like gold flowers. Flowers bloom June and July. It prefers sun or partial shade conditions and a moist slightly acidic soil. It is a generally care-free plant. Woodland flax makes for a good under-tree shade garden or woodland garden plant.

Scutellaria incana Biehler (Downy Skullcap, Hoary Skullcap)

This flower gets up to six to 18 inches high and has a spread of six to 12 inches. It loves full sun to partial shade and dry to wet well-drained soil. It does best on dry sandy or clay soils. It is a low maintenence plant with showy blue, violet, or white flowers from June to September. Interesting velvety foliage and no disease problems make this a great choice for your southern garden. You can propagate this by softwood cuttings.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Southern Catalpa

Also known as the Cigar tree or Indian bean, the Southern catalpa is botanically called the Catalpa bignonioides. It is from the trumpet-creeper family of plants and is native to the United States.

Southern Catalpa Description

Growing 25 to 40 feet tall and 25 to 40 feet wide at the crown, this tree has short and crooked branches. It has prominently veined heart-shaped leaves that are light green and deciduous. Flowers are clustered, 10 to 20 in a set. They are white and about two inches wide. There are cigar-looking pods for fruits. Bloom season is between May and June for this plant.

Growing Guide

The southern catalpa prefers to grow in partial shade lighting and wet or moist soils. Propagate by seed, softwood stem cuttings, hardwood stem cuttings. Seeds do not need pretreatment.


This tree is found throughout the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, and West Virginia. It is typically found in low woodland areas and in stream banks.


Kingdom         Plantae– Plants

Subkingdom    Tracheobionta– Vascular plants

Superdivision  Spermatophyta– Seed plants

Division           Magnoliophyta– Flowering plants

Class    Magnoliopsida– Dicotyledons

Subclass          Asteridae

Order   Scrophulariales

Family Bignoniaceae– Trumpet-creeper family

Genus  Catalpa Scop.– catalpa

Species            Catalpa bignonioides Walter– southern catalpa


There are some that consider this tree a bother. It has flowers that litter the ground, root suckers, and the leaves will smell bad when they are crushed. Caterpillars can defoliate the tree, but they are quick to recover.


The name ‘cigar tree’ comes from the fruit that look like cigars.

Source: NPIN